Three of My Favorite Paris Neighborhoods.
Did you know that Paris has 20 different neighborhoods?
They are called arrondissements and each neighborhood has it’s own special flare. While we didn’t get to visit all of them there are some that really stand out in my mind. Places I would look to visit the next time I go, places I would bring visitors if I lived there. These are some of the spots then when I close my eyes I can smell the air, feel the sunlight and hear the buzzing atmosphere. They seem quintessentially Paris to me and I loved every minute of my time in these spots.
My top three:
- St. Germain
- Ile St. Louis
Due to the my lack of planning prior to Paris I had no idea of the different arrondissements. My sister had insisted we go to St. Germain and eat a crepe but not because she had been there, only because she had done a lot of research on Paris and heard it was great. She was right.
So the first thing we did (after getting completely confused on the way to the campground and setting up our tent) was head over to St. Germain. Honestly I was totally blown away. We must have arrived at just the right time because we stumbled onto a street turned open air market and I was amazed. Really it was like truly being in another place and time. I had been to many markets in Mexico and Central America but nothing like this. Vendors were selling everything from scarves and clothing to fish & coffee. People were lounging around cafes watching the day go by. Everything was buzzing yet completely relaxing at the same time. It was fabulous. I remember feeling a bit quiet because I simply was in awe. It was like we had walked slam into the heart of Paris. The surroundings were picturesque and the people were beautiful. The best part was that we didn’t even have to try and find it. It found us and it was perfect.
There are plenty of hotels in St. Germain that will give you a great base to travel from. Yup, every day you could wake up, grab a coffee and walk the market where Picasso did all his shopping. Oh yeah – the crepes are also amazing and at around $3 – you can’t go wrong! Also be sure to check out our photo post on Paris Markets if you want to see more photos.
It’s no lie I fell head over heels for this bohemian village. Seriously I would move there in a heartbeat and not even think twice. Montmartre is the home to many amazing and famous artists (think: Modigliani, Monet, Dali, Picasso, Van Gogh) and it’s easy to see why. It’s a bit funky, elegant and eclectic at the same time. Plus the light – don’t even get me started on the light! Montmartre must be best buddies with the sun because it LOVES to hang out in Montmartre and capture every little nook and cranny in it’s golden glow. It’s easy to see why artists throughout time have gravitated to this section of Paris.
The only real regret I have (again due to lack of planning) is that we didn’t visit Montmartre until our last day in Paris and it was mostly just to see the Moulin Rouge. It only happened by accident that we decided to walk around the discovered this hamlet of Parisian awesomeness. As we found out on the metro there it is also home to the highest hill in Paris which makes for a mighty fine view of the city. There’s also a vineyard right in the middle of the streets! In a way it’s a good thing we didn’t see Montmartre until the end. I know I would’ve wanted to go back many times and would’ve missed out on other great spots. In fact, one of our readers recently stated that because of my photos she chose a hotel in Montmartre for her upcoming trip to Paris! I’ve got a whole slew of other photos coming up of this great neighborhood as well.
Did you know that Paris has an island? Well actually it has 2 – Ile de la Cite & Ile Saint-Louis. The larger of the two (Ile de la Cite) is home to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. As we wandered around the cathedral one day we stumbled upon the second little island completely by accident.
Peaceful, charming, quaint, insert your corresponding adjective here – yup it’s all those. It’s very small but big enough to have flower markets galore, bustling ice cream shops (it’s home to the original Berthillon ice cream) and a bike rental station. To top it off the bike rental system in Paris is out of this world and it only costs a few dollars to rent for a couple hours – you can pick up and drop off wherever you like in the city! With it’s small neighborhood appeal Ile Saint-Louis is the perfect place to have a picnic, rent a bike and grab an ice cream later in the day. It kind of has that old nostalgic feel to it that brings you back to a carefree time when you were a kid on vacation.
The lighthearted times stand right in front of you because like most of Paris, Ile Saint-Louis is no wallflower. As you walk across the bridge you are treated to an array of street performers doing anything from blowing gigantic bubbles, painting, miming, riding miniature bikes as children squeal with laughter as well as the locals riding bikes (completely with flowers in their bike baskets) and roller skating. As if it needed anything else it’s also home to great Paris hotels, trendy boutiques and killer candy shops. When we were there I saw not one, but two couples having their wedding photos taken around the island.
It’s a can’t miss spot if you’re headed to Paris and while it’s good for travelers of all ages I imagine the quirky performers and candy shops could make this an ideal location for those traveling with kids.
I highly recommend these three arrondissements to anyone visiting Paris. Personally I can’t wait to go back so I can see more of them but if you’re headed to the amazing city of light make sure you leave a lot of time just to wander around the city. We saw some famous attractions like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower but my best memories come from meandering the streets and bumping into these great neighborhoods. I sometimes beat myself up a bit because I am so bad at planning ahead of time and a lot of times I miss out on things because of it but I have to say in Paris it helped! You really don’t need much of an itinerary to enjoy Paris you just need to get there – Paris will show you everything you need to see.
P.S. If you’re there now one of my favorite bands, Fleet Foxes, is playing at Bataclan on May 30th! In fact I was listening to their song Tiger Mountain Peasant Song while I wrote this post. I would love to see them in Paris – if you go, let me know please!
*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of BeersandBeans.com, NarikosNest.com & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you want to use one of them please contact me first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!
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